WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

EU + WESTERN BALKANS:
  • The European Commission (EC) unveiled a $10.6 billion investment strategy for the Western Balkans for 2021-2027.
  • EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi said, “This plan goes hand in hand with the implementation of the reforms because without the reforms it’s impossible to create the right business environment.” And added, “It means they need a proper functioning rule of law system, independent judiciary, a reliable tax system that will make it interesting for (companies) to come and invest in the region.”
  • Read the investment full strategy HERE.
  • The EC also assessed prospective EU members and set priorities for those countries.
  • EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, said: “The citizens of the Western Balkans are part of Europe and they belong in the European Union. Today’s reports on the Enlargement Package provides a rigorous assessment that indicates the way forward, highlighting what has been achieved and where there is still hard work to be done.”
  • Read the full assessments HERE.
DZAFEROVIC IN TIRANA: On the second day of an official visit, BiH Presidency Chairman Sefik Dzaferovic met with Albania’s President Ilir Meta.
  • Dzaferovic indicated BiH is interested in opening an embassy in Albania.
  • He also met with Mayor of Tirana Eron Veliaj and was presented with a key to the city. Tirana and Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo, have been sister cities since 1996.
SWEDISH DELEGATION IN BiH: Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic and Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik hosted FM Ann Linde, Minister of the Interior Mikael Damberg and Special Envoy against Organized Crime Hakan Jevrell in Sarajevo.
  • They discussed strengthening co-operation between the two countries, Sweden’s work in the OSCE in BiH, EU integration, and the Bosnian diaspora in Sweden.
  • FM Linde said, “Sweden is a major donor to BiH, especially in the area of ​​reforms leading to EU candidate status. But even before that status is gained, reforms backed by the Swedish government already ensure a better country for all citizens.I am glad to welcome the collective commitment of BiH ‘s political leaders in European integration.”
  • Meanwhile, the delegation also met with Bosnia’s FM Bisera Turkovic and spoke about Belarus which was blasted by Dodik.
  • Dodik said, “Bosnia and Herzegovina did not define its position on any of these two issues, nor was such a thing on the agenda, except that it is known that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, without the authorization of the Presidency, was unilaterally involved in giving consent to some European forums for positions on Belarus.”
  • He added, “Without any authorization from the Presidency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was, in violation of constitutional provisions, involved in giving consent at European forums for certain positions on the issue of Belarus. That is not the position of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it creates a misconception that is not good and brings problems to Bosnia.”

DACIC SUPPORTS TRUIMP: Serbian FM Ivica Dacic claims that a Trump Administration would be better for Serbia with regards to Kosovo. He said, “There is no demand for compromise in a Democratic administration, there is a demand to recognize Kosovo. The Trump Administration expects a compromise to be reached, that is a big difference.” And he said the Trump Administration’s recognition of Kosovo is not the best situation for Serbia, but there is room to “build a partnership with America that has a slightly higher degree of mutual trust.”

SPEAKING OF THE ADMINISTRATION…: Kosovo Infrastructure Arban Arbashi clarified who is funding infrastructure projects in Kosovo that will connect to Serbia.

  • He said, “What is important to mention about the highway and railway project is that Kosovo through EU-funded projects is rehabilitating the infrastructure from the south to the north, while the US from west to east.”
  • And clarified the specifics, “The first project is about the road, rail and air links, according to the letters of intent, then construction of the Besi-Merdare highway, a project which is ready for implementation. The second project is related to the construction of the 45-km highway Pristina-Merdare.”

BiH PRESIDENCY IN BRUSSELS: The Members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sefik Dzaferovic, Zeljko Komsic, and Milorad Dodik, will be in Brussels on Friday for meetings according to Dodik.

N. MACEDONIA + EU: The Ministry of Transport and Communications of N. Macedonia has submitted a request to the EU for funds to conduct a study on the cost of a train line from the center of Skopje to the Skopje International Airport. The 2018-2030 National Transport Strategy estimates it could cost around 30 million euro.

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY IN BALKAN INFRASTRUCTURE: “A more connected region of the Western Balkans, in which the travel of people and the transport of goods are faster, cheaper, healthier and more enjoyable, is one of the Transport Community’s visions for the Western Balkans, which could be achieved by greater investment in sustainable infrastructure and connecting roads, railways, ports and airports into the Trans-European Network (TEN-T).””For the time being, the only international organization based in Belgrade, whose members are partners of the Western Balkans and the European Union, was created by an agreement signed at the summit in Trieste in 2017 within the Berlin Process, while the founding agreement was signed in October of the same year.” (European Western Balkans)

SLOVENIA NAT’L DEMOGRAPHIC FUND: “Prime Minster Janez Janša presented a draft bill on a National Demographic Fund, a new overarching state fund designed to pool all state assets to shore up the pension system, to the Economic Social Council (ESS) on Monday before the government adopted it later in the day.

“Janša told the government’s social partners on the ESS – employers and trade unions – it would be only right for the generation of pensioners which created state assets to benefit from them when it retired.”

“He said part of the funds would go for pensions, part for long-term care and part for construction of care homes and for family policy measures.” (Slovenia Times)

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